Col. James J. Freda, USA (Ret.)

Col. James J. Freda, USA (Ret.)

Col. James J. Freda, USA (Ret.)

          Hopewell Township, N.J. - Col. James J. Freda, an old soldier, faded away on April 27, 2017, at the age of 99 due to pneumonia.

Born April 8, 1918, to parents Domenic and Eugenia (Caputo) Freda, in Rochester, N.Y., James, called at various times Jim, Jack, Jake, and Giacomo, was an only child who exhibited enormous talent. He attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and ultimately earned a Bachelors of Music Degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, where he later was awarded a Masters degree.

          Predeceased by his parents Domenic and Eugenia Freda; his wife of 59 years, Elsie Foster Freda; and sons James F. Freda, and Dennis D. Freda.

          He is survived by his son J. Stephen Freda, his granddaughter Amy Giuliana Freda, his former daughter-in-law Diane L. Freda, and scores of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

          Jim, in December 1940, while teaching music in Rochester, enlisted in the US Army and had attained the rank of Sergeant by December 7, 1941. Instead if being released by the Army, he was ordered to Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning, Ga.  Jim, while in Officer Candidate School married his college sweetheart, Elsie Foster, in Ft. Benning’s Harmony Chapel in April, 1942. Upon receiving his commission, he was transferred to Colorado where he was among the original Cadre of the US Army 10th Mountain Division. In 1944, He was reassigned to a new “secret” unit: The 16th Corps. His unit landed onto the beach at Normandy several weeks after D-Day and participated in the break-out into France, then Belgium and the Netherlands, leading to the Battle of the Bulge.

          Following WWII, Jim returned to Illinois where he taught in and administered a school district assuming the role of teacher, principal, and superintendent, and earned a masters degree in music.

          In 1948, Jim was called back into the Army and assigned to Ft. Ord and the Presidio in California. In 1949, he was reassigned to Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s personal staff in Tokyo, and after the Korean Conflict to Washington, D.C. and the Pentagon. During the period of 1953 to 1964, he spent years at the Pentagon, but also had assignments in Iran, Korea, and at Georgetown University, where he earned a Master’s degree in international relations with the academic honor of Pi Sigma Alpha and was accepted as a Doctoral candidate. Following Georgetown and then over a year in Seoul, South Korea, he returned to the Pentagon and served in the Chief of Staff’s Office (DCSOPS) with the Joint Chiefs. His assignment was the Latin American “Desk”, where he formulated the policy adopted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President John F. Kennedy: the total naval blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962. Later, following his graduation from the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., he was transferred to London, England, to serve as the commander of the Joint US/UK Planning Group, where he negotiated and obtained the use of Diego Garcia Island, for the US Military, which remains a critical strategic asset to the US.

          Returning to the US after London, England, Jim assumed command of the 5th CST Brigade at Ft. Dix, N.J. He later added the roles of deputy post commander, and then acting post commander until his retirement in 1970.

          Upon his retirement from the US Army, he joined the administrative staff of Mercer County Community College where he served as executive assistant to the President, Dean of Community Affairs and Founder and Executive Director of the MCCC Foundation.

          In addition, he served as President of the Trenton Rotary Club, becoming a Paul Harris Fellow, President of the George Washington Boy Scout Council, President of the Trenton Symposium, President of the USO, member of the Board of directors of the Rescue Mission of Trenton, Member of the US Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame, member of the Board of Director’s of Mercer Mutual Insurance Co., member of the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of Hopewell Township Planning Board, member of Hopewell Township Zoning Board of Adjustment, member of the Senior Citizens Committee, Chairman of the Board of Health, member of Hopewell Township Committee, and served as Mayor, and was instrumental in dedesignating the continuation of I-95 through Hopewell Township.

          Jim and his family built a house in Oyster River Hills in 1965 and have enjoyed vacationing in Chatham since that time. 

          Calling hours will be 10am to 12pm Saturday, May 13, 2017, at the Wilson-Apple Funeral Home, 2560 Pennington Rd., Pennington, N.J. 08534.

          Funeral services will follow at 12noon.

          Interment will follow at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia.